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One of the most controversial of all questions in current Mycenaean scholarship is the
identity of the so-called 'owners' or 'collectors': clearly significant figures in the Mycenaean
state, whose names appear in connexion with flocks of sheep and textile workshops at both
Pylos and Knossos, and who there is increasing evidence to suggest also have 'interests' in
other aspects of the economy. Thus on the Pylos sheep records (classified as Cn), we find
references to flocks 'of' four different individuals a-ke-o, a-ko-so-ta, a-pi-me-de and we-da-
ne-u (as well as to large numbers of flocks not attributed to any 'owner'); we find references
to what appear to be comparable individuals to these Pylian 'owners' on the sheep records at
Knossos (classified as Da-Dg, Dv); some of the 'owners' on these sheep records are attested,
together with other persons, as 'owners' of workgroups in the A and L WOMAN and
CLOTH records at Knossos; and the individual e-me-si-jo who is named as an 'owner' both
on the D and the NL records at Knossos is also attested on E 843 and E 7338 as the 'owner'
of considerable tracts of land (or of large quantities of wheat or barley).
There is not sufficient space here to enter into a full discussion of the identity and role
of these 'collectors'. There are, however, three points which we need to bear in mind when
we are considering who they are:
1. Their activities are recorded in the central palaces, which indicates that the centres
have a close interest in and almost certainly control over them.
2. 'Their' flocks and workgroups are treated by the central administrations in a precisely
similar manner to all other flocks and workgroups recorded in the archives (given the same
rations, assigned the same targets for production), except that separate totals are kept for
'collector' and 'non-collector' activity.
3. In some contexts, references to 'ownership' by 'collectors' are found in parallel with
references to 'ownership' by divinities. Thus in the DI(l) SHEEP and WOOL records at
Knossos we find references to 'owners' such as ra-wo-qo-no and e-se-re-a2 and in parallel
position on other records in the same group references to sheep 'of' the goddess Potnia (po-ti-
ni-ja-we-jo ).
To my own mind, the explanation of the 'collectors' which best fits with this evidence
is that they are prominent members of the ruling elite (members of the royal family, high
palace officials and the like) who have been assigned part of the productive capacity of the
kingdoms for their own benefit (that share, however, still being managed on their behalf by
the central authorities) 1. Encouragement for the belief that this explanation may be on the
right lines is provided by comparative evidence: in records from Ur III Mesopotamia, the
following are mentioned as owners of sheep and wool besides the king himself: the queen;
J.T. KILLEN, "The Knossos Ld(l) tablets", Colloquium Mycenaeum. Actes du sixieme colloque
international sur les textes myceniens et egeens (1979),177. For a similar view, see J. CHADWICK, The
Mycenaean World (1976), 129; L. GODART, "Les collecteurs dans le monde egeen", Mykenai'ka. Actes du
IXe Colloque international sur les textes myceniens et egeens, BCH suppl. XXV (1992), 283. (GODART's
paper is one of four very useful discussions of the 'collectors' which appear in Mykenai'ka, the others being
prominent state officials such as the ensi; and the temple of Nanna 2. Moreover, we know that
one 'collector' at Pylos, a-ko-so-ta, also performs major administrative duties, including the
inspection of land-holdings and the distribution of raw materials to unguent-boilers 3; while
another, a-pi-me-de, is in all probability an e-qe-ta or 'follower', a high official of the
Mycenaean state 4.
The purpose of this paper is to ask the question: do we have evidence for the activity of
'collectors' in spheres of the economy other than those already mentioned? I begin by
considering some possible evidence for 'collectors' in the In series of bronze-working records
at Pylos; then, in the second section of the paper, I examine what I believe to be strong
evidence for the activity of a major 'collector' in the records at Knossos dealing with the
manufacture of aromatic unguents.
On several of the In records of bronze-working at Pylos we have references to workers
'of the goddess Potnia. Invariably, these are listed after the main group of workers in the area
in question. It is possible that we also have references to 'owner' or 'collector' groupings
listed in the same position on other records.
(a) On In 725.14, the term ]-nu-we-jo appears in initial position on the line, and clearly
serves to identify the sub-grouping of workers which is recorded on 11.14-16 of the tablet.
Though this might be a place-name, and a record of a group of workers at a place other than
e-ni-pa-te-we, the location of the group listed on 11. 1-8 of the tablet, it is perhaps more
attractively interpreted as a possessive adjective in -e-jo indicating the 'ownership' of the
group in question 5. The use of adjectives of this type to designate workgroups, flocks and
perhaps also land 'belonging to' 'owners' is widely attested elsewhere in the records.
(b) On In 832, lines 1-8 of the record deal with ro-u-so ka-ke-we a-ke-te-re, smiths
specialising in finishing (?) work at the place ro-u-so 6. Then on 1. 9 comes a further heading,
a-to-mo ka-ke-we a-~(j-te. Though some scholars have taken a-to-mo as a further place-name,
parallel to ro-u-so, on all its other appearances on the tablets a-to-mo is the title of an official;
and while it is obviously possible that this is a case of a homograph, and that the underlying
term in each of these instances is a different one, the possibility must come to mind that the
reference on 832 is in fact to the same official title 7, and that this is a workgroup which is
'owned' by the a-to-mo of ro-u-so. It is common to find nominatives of rubric in the 'owner'
position on records at Knossos; and a possible parallel for 'ownership' of workers by a major
official described by means of his title is provided by Le 642 at Knossos, where on 1. 3 of the
tablet, following the 'owner' reference ]ri-jo (possibly i-se-we- ]ri-jo) at the beginning of the
line, we find the term da-mo-ko[, which is perhaps to be restored as the title da-mo-ko-ro.
2 H. WAETZOLDT, Untersuchungen zur neusumerischen Textilindustrie (1972), 34.
3 See PY Eq 213, PY Un 267.
4 M. LEJEUNE, Memoires de philologie mycenienne III (1972), 107-Ill.
5 For the suggestion that ]-nu-we-jo is more plausibly taken as a description of the workgroup than a
reference to the place where the group is located see M. LEJEUNE, Memoires de philologie mycenienne 11
(1971), 184. For the suggestion that ]-nu-we-jo is a possessive adjective in -e-jo, see C.J. RUIJGH, Etudes
sur la grammaire et le vocabulaire du grec mycenien (1967), 268 (who, however, takes it as referring only
to the smith whose name immediately follows the term).
6 For the suggestion that the a-ke-te-re are /asketeresl, 'finishers' (which would explain why they receive no
allocation of raw materials, and yet are not described as a-ta-ra-si-jo, 'without pensum'), see KILLEN
(supra n. 1), 166-167.
7 For the suggestion that a-to-mo is likely to have the same sense here as it does elsewhere in the records see
F. AURA JORRO, Diccionario micenico 1(1985), 120.
(c) Finally, as P. de Fidio has recently pointed out, it is attractive to compare the
references to the 5 men 'of to-sa-no and the 31 men 'of a-ta-wo-no on In 431.25-26, and to
the slaves 'of pe-re-qo-no and arki-e-u on In 605.10, to the references to groups of workers
attributed to 'collectors' or 'owners' elsewhere at Pylos and at other sites 8.
It is also possible that we have a reference to a (major) 'collector' in the records at
Knossos dealing with the manufacture of perfumed olive oil.
A number of records at Pylos bear witness to this important Mycenaean industry, which
has been admirably studied by E.D. Foster 9, C.W. Shelmerdine 10 and others, and which
involves the maceration in olive oil of a variety of aromatic substances. PY Un 267, for
instance, reads as follows:
Un 267 .1
o-do-ke , a-ko-so-ta
tu-we-ta , a-re-pa-zo-o
tu-we-a , a-re-pa-te IT ' ze-so-me ]
ze-so-me-no IT ko]
ko-ri-a2-da-na AROM 6
ku-pa-ro2 AROM 6 *!~!! 6
KAPO 2 T 5 VIN 20 ME 2
'Thus Alxoitas (vel sim.) gave to Thuestas the unguent-boiler aromatics for unguent
which is to be boiled: coriander, six units; cyperus, six units; etc.' (The other commmodities
listed include wine and perhaps honey, if ME stands for me-ri).
Evidence for similar production at Knossos is provided by a series of records found in
close proximity to one another in the Western area of the palace east of the Long Corridor.
These include records, not only of olive oil (in the Ph series), but also of coriander, cyperus
and honey (in the Ga and Gg series). On several of the tablets in question we find the term ku-
pi-ri-jo (The texts of the relevant records are set out in Appendix I below). What is the
explanation of this word?
There has been much discussion of this question of late. Following the discovery of the
term ~,!-pi-ri-iq" which may well contrast with ke-re-si-ja, 'Cretan', on the newly joined
Od 667 + 5898 + 8292 +fr., J.L. Melena has argued that ku-pi-ri-jo, on all its appearances at
Knossos, is an adjective meaning 'Cypriot' 11; and he has been followed in this view by T.G.
Palaima 12. While, however, ~~-pi-ri-iq, on Od 667 almost certainly does have this meaning,
and refers to wool (probably for decorating cloth) of Cypriot origin or type, it is in my view
extremely unlikely that the oil with which ku-pi-ri-jo is associated on the Fh, Fp tablets can
8 P. DE FIDIO, Klio 71 (1989),23.
9 E.D. FOSTER, Minos 16 (1977), 19-51.
10 C.W. SHELMERDINE, The Perfume Industry of Mycenaean Pylos (1985).
11 E.L. BENNETT et al., Minos 24 (1989), 202-203, 216.
12 T.G. PALAIMA, "Maritime Matters in the Linear B Tablets", Thalassa. L'Egee prehistorique et la mer.
Actes de la troisieme Rencontre egeenne internationale de l'Universite de Liege, Station de recherches
sous-marines et oceanographiques (StaReSO), Calvi, Corse (23-25 avril1990), Aegaeum 7 (1991),280-
be of anything other than local Cretan origin 13. (While it is conceivable that high-grade wool
for decorative purposes should have been imported from Cyprus, it does not seem likely that
large amounts of olive oil, which was clearly available in plenty on Crete 14, should have
been brought from overseas). Furthermore, while it is perhaps conceivable that oil which was
intended for export to Cyprus should have been described as 'Cypriot' 15, it would be less
easy to understand such a use of the term in connexion with spices and honey which are
evidently intended for use, doubtless in Crete itself, for the production of aromatic olive oil,
even if the oil in question was destined later to be exported to Cyprus. Moreover, not only is
ku-pi-ri-jo clearly a personal name Kuprios, 'the Cypriot', on the Pylos records Cn 131, Cn
719 and In 320: there is (as I argued in 1979) 16 much to be said for taking it in the same way
on the Fh, Fp and Ga, Gg records, and as a reference to a palace official who plays an
important role in the perfumed oil industry 17. As I pointed out, for example, in a number of
instances on these records ku-pi-ri-jo is accompanied by a further term which it is attractive to
interpret as a personal name in the dative (see ma-ro-ne on Fh 347, Fh 5246, su-ko-ne on
Fp(2) 5472 and ma-ki-ro-ne on Gg(1) 995), or which could be a dative, though there is less
positive evidence that it is (like ]-ki-ro on Ph 5447, ]o-se-ko-do on Fh 371 and u-ne[ on Fh
5446); and it is tempting to suppose therefore (a) that ku-pi-ri-jo is involved in issuing the
commodities listed on these tablets to the persons concerned, and (b) that he may therefore by
playing the same role in the perfumed oil industry at Knossos as is evidently played by
persons like a-ko-so-ta in the comparable industry at Pylos. (On PY Un 267, as we have just
noted, a-ko-so-ta is described as giving aromatics, including cyperus and coriander, to
Thuestas the unguent-boiler). I
A further argument in support of the view that ku-pi-ri-jo is a person has recently been
adduced by J.-P. Olivier 18. As he points out, the amount of oil listed in connexion with ku-pi-
ri-jo on Ph 372 (150 units) stands in a ratio of roughly 31:69 to the amount of oil listed on the
totalling record Fh 367, which lists 330.3 units of the commodity. The texts of these two
records run as follows.
Fh 372 + 5440 + 5474 + frr. (3)
ku-pi-ri-jo / o-no OLE 150
Fh 367 + 5460 + 9083 + 9106
to-so-ku-su-pa OLE 330 S 1
This numerical relationship here is immediately reminiscent of the c. 30:70 ratio
between 'collector' and 'non-collector' animals on the Da-Dg sheep records at Knossos 19,
and also possibly between 'collector' and 'non-collector' cloth (measured in terms of wool)
13 For the same view, see J.-P. OLIVIER in BENNEIT et at. (supra n. 11),217.
14 As witness such records in the Fh series as Fh 349 and Fh 5451, which record the payment to the palace of
OLE 53 V 3 and OLE 30[ by the places ru-ki-to and a-mi-ni-so, Amnisos, respectively.
15 For this explanation of the term, see PALAIMA (supra n. 12),294-295.
16 KILLEN (supra n. 1), 178.
17 For the view that k. is a personal name, see also J.-P. OLIVIER in BENNEIT et at. (supra n. 11), 217 (and
earlier J.-P. OLIVIER, BSA 62 [1967], 327). L. GODART, SMEA 8 (1969), 51-53 and also in BENNEIT
et at. (supra n. 11),216 also takes k. as a reference to a person, but regards it as a description, rather than
as a personal name.
18 J.-P. OLIVIER, "El commercio micenico des de la documentaci6n epigrafica" (Lecture given at the
National Archaeological Museum, Madrid, 26 February 1992), forthcoming.
19 J.-P. OLIVIER, SMEA 2 (1967), 71-93.
on the Lc(1) CLOTH and WOOL tablets at the same site 20. If there are 'collectors' in the
textile industry, it would not come as a surprise to find them also in the olive oil (and unguent
boiling) industry. Is in fact ku-pi-ri-jo a 'collector' 21; and are the large number of references
to him in the F and G series, and the amount of oil with which he is associated on Ph 372,
attributable to the same cause viz. that whereas in the sheep and wool industries a number of
different 'collectors' are active, in the oil and unguent-boiling industry only one (major)
'collector' has responsibilities, i.e. ku-pi-ri-jo? Note, too, in support of Olivier's hypothesis
the possible parallelism, just noted, between the role of ku-pi-ri-jo in the Knossos unguent-
boiling industry and the role of a-ko-so-ta in the comparable industry at Pylos. Not only is a-
ko-so-ta clearly an important figure in the administration of the unguent-boiling industry, and
in Pylos palace administration more generally: he is also one of the four 'collectors' named in
the Pylos Cn sheep records.
Moreover, there is I believe some further encouragement for the belief that ku-pi-ri-jo is
a 'collector'. On several of the Fh OIL tablets which concern him, including Fh 372
mentioned above, ku-pi-ri-jo is associated with the term o-no. What is the meaning of this
In their contributions to the Third International Mycenaean Colloquium (Wingspread
1961), John Chadwick 22 and Michel Lejeune 23 independently suggested that o-no, here and
elsewhere, was most plausibly explained as a transaction term containing the same root as
Classical Greek OVtVll'll, '1 benefit' and the terms o-na-to, o-na-te-re on the Pylos land tenure
tablets. Chadwick further suggested that on the Pylos records An 35.5-6 and Un 443.1, where
o-no is preceded by the term tu-ru-pte-ri-ja, plausibly interpreted as /strupteriiiJ, 'alum', the
effective meaning of the word is 'price' or 'consideration'. Here, as he pointed out, tu-ru-pte-
ri-ja can neatly be explained as a genitive, /strupterias/, indicating the reason for giving the
price or consideration ('[price] for alum'); while the list of commodities which follows tu-ru-
pte-ri-ja o-no can plausibly be understood as the price or consideration in question: on An 35,
wool, goats, *146 (almost certainly a textile), wine and figs; on Un 443, wool and * 146. The
full texts of An 35 and Un 443 are set out below:
An 35 .1
to-ko-do-mo , de-me-o-te
pu-ro VIR 2 me-te-to-de VIR 3
sa-ma-ra-de VIR 3 re-u-ko-to-ro VIR 4
a-ta-ro , tu-ru-pte-ri-ja , o-no
LANA 2 CApf 4 *146 3 VIN 10 NI 4
20 For the suggestion that the totalling records for this series distinguish between 'collector' and 'non-
collector' animals, see OLIVIER (supra n. 19),91; for confirmation of the suggestion, see J.T. KILLEN
and J.-P. OLIVIER, BCH92 (1968),137. Unfortunately, the figures on Lc(l) 535, which it is attractive to
guess was the totalling record for the 'collector' tablets in this series, have not been preserved, and we
cannot be certain therefore that a 30:70 ratio between 'collector' and 'non-collector' output, measured in
terms of wool units, was maintained in this instance. But the figures on Lc(1) 536 (almost certainly, the
totalling tablet for the 'non-collector' records) and on the surviving individual 'collector' records (Lc(1)
532, 551 and 7392) are consistent with the view that it was. Lc( 1) 536 records cloth weighing a total of c.
2528 WOOL units; while the surviving individual 'collector' records (assuming that dotted figures are
certain) record cloth weighing a minimum of 769.6 WOOL units: giving a ratio between the two 'sectors'
of c. 77:23.
21 For that suggestion see, besides OLIVIER (supra n. 18), OLIVIER (supra n. 17), 327.
22 J. CHADWICK, "Pylos Tablet Un 1322", Mycenaean Studies. Wingspread 1961 (1964), 19-26.
23 M. LEJEUNE, "Sur le vocabulaire economique mycenien", Mycenaean Studies. Wingspread 1961 (1964),
Un 443 [+] 998
(pars inferior sinistra)
ku-pi-ri-jo , tu-ru-pte-ri-ja , o-no LANA 10 *146 10
po-re-no-zo-te-n-Ja LANA 3
]<;lg-ke , ka-pa-ti-ja , HORD 2 te-ri-ja GRA l LANA 5
reliqua pars sine regulis
Furthermore, as Chadwick pointed out, a sense 'price' or 'consideration' will also fit
well with the evidence of PY Un 1322. Though this tablet is severely damaged, and many of
the readings are difficult to make out, lines 4 and 5 of the record are most plausibly explained
as stating the 'price' or 'value' of *146 in terms of wheat; and this in turn makes it attractive
to take lines 2 and 3 of the record, which contain (probable) references to o-no, and which
begin, respectively, with the terms de-ku-tu-wo-~q[ and Ht;-lY~, as references to a payment of
some kind to a net-maker (or net-makers) and a male weaver (or weavers). The text of 1322
runs as follows:
]-no , re-po-to
GRA 9 J:I![
GRA f NI 2
GRA 12
*146 GRA 5
]* !1~C?~~I?
supra mutila
infra mutila
.1 ]I)g[
.2 de-ku-tu-wo-1.<g[
Un 1322
Chadwick's and Lejeune's suggestion is clearly highly attractive; and it has been very
widely accepted. Nor, I believe, is there much to be said in favour of an alternative
suggestion, recently offered by W.R. Gallagher, that the term is /onos, onoi/, 'ass(es)', and
refers to a measure of capacity. (For a full discussion of Gallagher's suggestion, see Appendix
II below). But if Chadwick and Lejeune are correct, and o-no is /onon/ (and the word o-na,
which occurs on several occasions on the tablets in what appear to be similar contexts to o-no,
is the neuter plural of this term), how do we account for the presence of the word on Fh 372,
where it accompanies ku-pi-ri-jo?
Fh 372 + 5440 + 5474 +frr. (3)
ku-pi-ri-jo / o-no OLE 150
Here, not only is there no mention of any commodity for which the oil listed on the
record is being exchanged: the amount of oil recorded is vast: 150 units, perhaps something
of the order of 5,400 litres, and getting on for 50% of the amount listed on Fh 367, which, as
we have seen, is evidently some kind of totalling record for the series? Clearly, it is not easy
to believe that o-no can have a sense 'price' in this context. But if o-no here does not indicate
a 'price', what then is its force?
If, as we have suggested, ku-pi-ri-jo is a 'collector', a possible answer immediately
suggests itself. As we have suggested above, the 'collectors' are most plausibly explained as
prominent members of the palace elite who have been allocated part of the productive
capacity of the kingdom for their own benefit. Given this possible explanation of the
'collectors' as beneficiaries of the central power, and the evidence just seen that ku-pi-ri-jo
might well be a member of this class, is it an accident that he is so regularly associated with a
term which it is attractive to identify as containing the same root as we find in OVtVTH.Lt, 'I
benefit' ? Is the basic sense of o-no in fact 'benefit', 'advantage'; and is it used on Ph 372,
with its record of 150 units of oil listed in connexion with ku-pi-ri-jo, and perhaps elsewhere
on the Ph tablets where there is again mention of ku-pi-ri-jo and o-no, to refer to the 'benefit'
in oil which ku-pi-ri-jo receives from the centre in his capacity as a 'collector'? And when we
find the term on records like An 35.5-6, Un 443.1 and Un 1322.1-3, does it refer to a 'benefit'
of a slightly different kind: the 'benefit' or 'advantage' (in our terms, 'payment') given by the
centre in return for commodities acquired or services rendered: in the case of An 35 and Un
443, in return for alum; in the case of Un 1322, in return, perhaps, for services rendered by
the netmaker(s), weaver(s), etc.? It is possible, indeed, that in a few instances the references
to o-no on the Fh tablets relate to payments of this latter kind. The small amount of oil
recorded as we-wo-~Q o-no on Ph 347 might be a 'payment' to a worker of a similar status to
the netmaker(s) and weaver(s) on Un 1322, rather than a 'benefit' given to a minor
'collector', or a share in the beneficial interest in the palace's oil which is enjoyed by ku-pi-ri-
jo (who is mentioned on line 1 of the tablet, evidently as supplying oil to one *ma-ro (an
unguent-boiler in ku-pi-ri-jo's household?). And rather than explaining the reference to o-na
de-'!l!-fJ!-jo on the recently joined Ph 5431 + 5449 + 7896 + 9104 + frr. as 'benefits' or
'payments' given to an individual Demnios, it is perhaps preferable to take it as a record of
'payments' for beds, /demnion/ (gen. plur. of the reason why the payment has been given: cf.
tu-ru-pte-ri-ja o-no, very likely, as we have seen, /strupterias onon!, 'payment for alum').
Not only is 'bed, beds' at least a conceivable sense for de-mi-ni-jo, de-mi-ni-ja elsewhere on
the records: if de-mi-ni-jo were a genitive plural, indicating the (multiple) objects for which
the compensation here were being given, this would neatly explain the use of the plural of o-
no before the term. Moreover, given the evidence of Un 1322, which appears to indicate that
the palace made 'payments' (o-no) to a netmaker (or netmakers) and a weaver (or weavers),
quite possibly in return for professional services rendered, it would not be surprising to find
the palace also making 'payments' for beds, at least if these were of a simple kind needed for
issue to workers (as the beds probably listed on MY V 659, evidently as issues to female
workers in the textile industry, might well have been). Whereas it is clear that the palace itself
organised the production of high-quality, luxury manufactured goods, the evidence of Un
1322 suggests that it may have acquired goods of a simpler kind (like nets) from independent
or semi-independent workers who were not located in palace-controlled workshops.
In sum, then, I should like to suggest that o-no does contain the same root as OVtVTlllt
(and Myc. o-na-to, o-na-te-re, etc.); that its basic sense is 'benefit'; and that it is used of
'benefits' of various kinds, including 'benefits' given to 'collectors' by virtue of their position
and 'benefits' (or 'payments') given in return for commodities or service. But before we leave
this term, I should like to offer one further, and (it should certainly be made clear at the
outset) rather speculative suggestion.
As has for long been observed 24, it is a curious fact that an association between ku-pi-
ri-jo and o-no is found not only at Knossos, as it is in the Ph series, but also at Pylos, in the
first line of Un 443:
Un 443 [+]
998 (pars inferior sinistra)
ku-pi-ri-jo , tu-ru-pte-ri-ja , o-no LANA 10 * 146 10
po-re-no-zo-te-ri-ja LANA 3
]c;I<;>-ke , ka-pa-ti-ja , HORD 2 te-ri-ja GRA ~ LANA 5
reliqua pars sine regulis
24 See e.g. L.R. PALMER, TPhS (1958),32; CHADWICK (supra n. 22), 22.
220 J.T. KlLLEN
How is this phenomenon to be explained, if it is not simply a matter of coincidence that
a recipient (?) of an o-no at Pylos has the same name as a 'collector' who is in receipt of an
o-no at Knossos?
In his recent discussion which we have already referred to, Jean-Pierre Olivier suggests
an answer 25. Noting my observation in 1979 26 that there are a number of instances in which
the names of 'collectors' appear at more than one site (a-ka-i-jo at Thebes and Knossos; we-
we-si-jo at Knossos and Pylos; etc.), he suggests that this is another example of the same
phenomenon: that ku-pi-ri-jo at Pylos, as well as ku-pi-ri-jo at Knossos, is a 'collector', and
that he is associated with o-no for precisely the same reason as his namesake at Knossos is
associated with the term.
Now it will immediately be noted that, if our previous suggestions are correct, the
nature of the o-no which ku-pi-ri-jo at Knossos is receiving (150 units of oil, in his capacity
as a 'collector') will clearly be somewhat different from that of the o-no which ku-pi-ri-jo at
Pylos is being given: a 'payment' in cloth and wool in return for alum. It is also seemingly the
case that the persons who are named on the tablets as receiving o-no are of a widely different
nature: a netmaker (or netmakers) on PY Un 1322; a major 'collector' on the Knossos Fh
tablets. Moreover, there is clearly no question of the two other persons who are called ku-pi-
ri-jo at Pylos being 'collectors': a shepherd on the Cn tablets and a bronze-smith on the Jn
records. Nonetheless, we clearly cannot exclude the possibility that ku-pi-ri-jo on Un 443 is a
'collector'; and if this is indeed what he is, a further thought immediately comes to mind.
As Ruth Palmer has well observed in her thesis on Mycenaean wine 27, the commodities
which are listed on Un 443 and An 35 as (evidently) being given in return for alum (tu-ru-pte-
ri-ja o-no), i.e. wool, goats, * 146, wine and figs, do not strike one as particularly suitable for
overseas trading purposes. (Indeed, we may note how regularly these items appear elsewhere
on the records in the context of what are seemingly internal transactions, like the 'payments'
to the netmaker(s) and the weaver(s) on PY Un 1322). Palmer writes as follows:
Alum has to be imported into Messenia (the nearest good source is Melos), but the persons
providing the alum in the Pylos o-no tablets may have been middlemen, rather than the actual
producers of the mineral. The mixed nature of the goods accepted in return suggests that the men
selling alum and garments to the palace were local. Although the goods listed in these tablets store
well, they are bulky. In particular, the figs and the grain are not of high enough value to repay
shipping costs in long distance trade. The only kinds of commodity not listed are the aromatics and
perfumed oil, which were manufactured for the luxury trade.
If, however, what An 35 and Un 443 are recording is 'payments', presumably by the
palace, not to an overseas supplier of alum, but to a person within the kingdom who has
gained control of the commodity, either through trade which he personally has conducted, or
from a third party who himself was responsible for the trading, and if one at least of the
persons in receipt of these (internal) payments is a 'collector' (ku-pi-ri-jo), is it the
implication of this that one of the functions of 'collectors' was to organize external trade? If,
as I have suggested, the 'collectors' were members of the royal family, high officials of the
state vel sim., it would certainly not come as a surprise to find them organising external trade
in a kingdom of this kind. As Holly Morris has written 28, 'the paramount [in kingdoms of
this type] may sponsor some freelance exchangers who are foreigners or who otherwise have
no lineage ties in his region, or he may institutionalize his own trading mechanism, made up
25 OLIVIER (supra n. 18).
26 KILLEN (supra n. 1), 176-179.
27 R. PALMER, Wine in the Mycenaean Palace Economy (Diss. 1989),96-97.
28 HJ. MORRIS, An Economic Model of the Late Mycenaean Kingdom of Pylos (1986), 56.
of people from elite lineages, those closest to the paramount lineage'. (My italics). Is perhaps
therefore ku-pi-ri-jo at Pylos the Mycenaean equivalent of a Near Eastern tamkar; and is it
more than simply an accident that his namesake at Knossos has a major involvement in the
production of perfumed olive oil: one of the commodities par excellence which Crete is likely
to have exported 29 ? And (to be really speculative) is it entirely a coincidence that both these
individuals are called ku-pi-ri-jo? As John Chadwick observed long ago 30, a propos of
ku-pi-ri-jo and tu-ru-pte-ri-ja on PY Un 443, Cyprus is one of the places in the Mediterranean
which is known to have been a source of alum; and it is also not inconceivable that Cyprus
was one of the places to which Crete exported its perfumed olive oil 31. Is it possible,
therefore, the thought comes to mind, that both our ku-pi-ri-jos were given their names for the
same reason: that they (or their fathers or grandfathers) were members of the palace elite, one
at Knossos and the other at Pylos, who had a particular involvement in the trade with
Cyprus 32 ?
29 J.T. KILLEN, "The Linear B Tablets and the Mycenaean Economy", Linear B: a 1984 Survey (1985), 264.
30 CHAD WICK (supra n. 22), 22-23.
31 On pottery evidence for Cretan contacts with Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age see O. DICKINSON, The
Aegean Bronze Age (1994), 252.
32 It is not unparalelled in Linear B for persons to be named after their professions: note the shepherd po-me
(evidently/Poimenl) on KN Dd 1376.B and the smith ka-ke-u (doubtless /Khalkeusl) on PY Jn 750.8. And
is it entirely a coincidence that one of the most prominent of all 'collectors' in the sheep and cloth industry
at Knossos (who may also have a namesake in the textile industry at Pylos) is called we-we-si-jo i.e. a
name which might be connected with the word for 'woo!'?
Texts at Knossos containing ku-pi-ri-jo and/or o-no, o-na
Fh, Fp OIL records
(a) Texts containing both o-no and ku-pi-ri-jo
Fh 347
.1 ma-ro-ne / ku-pi-ri-jo aLE 6 S 2 MU 5
.2 we-we-r9, o-no aLE 1 a-ri-to-[' ~9 aLE v 2
Fh 361 + 9069 + 9096 + fr.
aLE 21
ku-pi-ri-jo / o-no zo-a
S 2 [ ] vac.
aLE ~ v ~
Fh 372 + 5440 + 5474 + frr. (3)
ku-pi-ri-jo / o-no
aLE 150
Fh 5447 + 5466 + 7787 + frr. (12)
]-ki-ro / ku-pi-ri-joL p-no aLE 9 S[
(b) Texts containing o-no (or o-na) but not ku-pi-ri-jo
Fh 348
.1 o-no, i-su-ku-wo-do-to , aLE 1 S 1
.2 qe-te-o, ~ te-o ~ aLE
Fh 5431 + 5449 + 7896 + 9082 + 9105 + frr.
o-na , de-rpj-I)j-jo aLE 2 S 2
(c) Texts containing ku-pi-ri-jo but not o-no
Fh 371 + 5448 (141)
]o-se-ko-do / ku-pi-ri-jo aLE 13 S I MU 10
MU 10 written below 13.
Fh 5246 + 8504 + frr. (4)
ku-pi-ri-jo / ma-ro-ne aLE 100
Fh 5446 (141)
.1 ku-pi-ri-jo / u-ne[
.2 to-ro-qa / a-nu-[
Fh 5490 (141)
sup. mut.
]ku-pi-rH -jo
in! mut.
Fp(2) 5472 + 5476 + frr. (5)
.1 ku-pi-ri-jo /
.2 si-ja-rp~[
.3 )vest. [
.4 ] vacat
OLE 1 S [
OLE 2 [
Ga(l) 517
Ga, Gg 'spice' and honey records
.a ku-pi-ri-jo
.b tu-wi-no, / ku-pa-ro AROM+PYC 1
Ga(l) 676
.a ko-ri-ja-do-no
.b tu-wi-no-no, / ku-pi-ri-jo
Ga(l) 677 + 7769
)-ni-jo , / ku-pi-ri-jo
Ga(2) 995 + 7370 + 7591 + 7764
ma-ki-ro-ne , / ku-pi-ri-jo , 'ME+Rf *209VAS +A 6[
On a recent interpretation of o-no
As we have noted above, the generally accepted interpretation of Mycenaean o-no, in the great majority
of the contexts in which it occurs, is as a transaction term /onon/. In a discussion of o-no published in 1988,
however, W.R. Gallagher has rejected this explanation of the term 33. Noting that on KN Ca 895 and (probably)
Ca 7788 o-no has the value ovo~, OVOl, 'ass(es)', and that in Akkadian the word imeru can mean not only 'ass'
but 'ass-load', he suggests that o-no has this second sense in all the non-Ca records in which it occurs: that in
records of wool, cloth, etc. it means literally 'ass-load', and that in records involving oil, grain, etc. it denotes the
largest units of liquid and dry measure i.e. the units involved when the scribe writes OLE 1, GRA 1, etc.
This proposal, however, is very difficult to accept, for the following reasons:
1. On PY An 35, one of the commodities entered after o-no is CApf, female goats. As Gallagher says 34,
female goats could hardly have been carried by asses; and in order to explain away this entry he suggests that the
ideogram here denotes, not she-goats themselves, but their skins. This is of course an entirely arbitrary
procedure: while it is true that some scholars have suggested (not in my view very persuasively) that CAP,
OVIS, etc. are occasionally used elsewhere in the archive to denote the skins of animals 35, there is nothing to
confirm that this is the value of CApf here.
2. If o-no indicates the largest units of liquid and dry measure, it is not easy to explain why it should be
written on so few of the tablets which contain entries involving these measures, and be omitted from the rest.
Gallagher ingeniously suggests that the reason why it occurs on Fh 347, Fh 361, Fh 372 and Fh 5447 is that
there is a close connexion between ku-pi-ri-jo, which occurs on all four of these records, and the ideogram MU
33 W.R. GALLAGHER, Minos 23 (1988), 85-106.
34 GALLAGHER (supra n. 33), 89.
35 For this suggestion about the ideogram CApf on the Knossos Mc tablets, see J.L. MELENA, Minos 13
(1972),41-42; for the same suggestion about the animal ideograms on the sealings from the NE workshop
and on the Cc tablets from Pylos, see Y. DUHOUX, Aspects du vocabulaire economique mycenien (1976),
129; J.L. MELENA, "Further Thoughts on Mycenaean o-pa", Res Mycenaeae. Akten des VlI.
lnternationalen Mykenologischen Colloquiums (1983),280.
(on Fh 347, a MU entry follows immediately after the OLE entry on line I), and that the scribe has entered o-no
on these records to prevent ambiguity: that MU also indicates a measure, and o-no has been written 'to prevent
confusion between the two systems of measurement'. Not only, however, does an explanation along these lines
not account for the presence of o-no on Fh 348, where there is no mention of ku-pi-ri-jo: there must be real
question (a) whether 'confusion between two systems of measurement' could have occurred on a record like Fh
361, where there is mention of ku-pi-ri-jo and a-no, but, as we can now be virtually certain, no MU entry is
present, and indeed (b) whether MU is a measure at all, rather than a container. [As L.R. Palmer long ago
pointed out 36, there appears to be a regular relationship between the figures in the M U entries (which are
always whole numbers) and the amounts in the OIL entries which immediately precede them; and this could
neatly be explained if MU indicates the vessels in which the oil in question was held].
3. A value 'ass-load' for o-no is particularly difficult to accept in the cases where it is followed by LANA
(wool) (and in some cases also * 146, almost certainly a textile). We can be reasonably certain that the major
WOOL unit weighs only c. 3 kg.; and it is difficult to believe therefore, even allowing for the fact that different
asses may have had different carrying capacities, that the small amounts of LANA following o-no on MY Oe
108.1 (four units = 12 kg.) and KN M(I) 559 (two units = 6 kg.) can have constituted the entire load of a
donkey 37. Nor will matters be helped much if o-no on M 559 is to be taken both with the wool on line 1 and the
two (?) units of * 146 on line 2. And not only is it difficult to explain the very small amounts in the o-no entries
on these records: it is also not easy on the 'ass-load' hypothesis to explain the very large difference between the
amounts in the o-no entries here and the amount of wool and * 146 (ten units of each) listed in the o-no entry on
PY Un 443.
4. As M. Lejeune was the first to point out 38, it is attractive to take the term o-na on PY Ua 158 as the
(neuter) plural of o-no. Although we have no certain parallel elsewhere on the records for a genitive of a man's
name, as ke-do-jo here appears to be, preceding o-no 39, we do have examples of an apparent name in the
nominative in this position (see e.g. we-we-rq o-no on KN Fh 347) 40; and, much more compelling, all the
commodities which occur in the list following the reference to c-na here (*146, wheat and figs) are also attested
in the lists of commodities found in o-no records (for * 146, see (e.g.) An 35, Un 443; for wheat, see (e.g.) Un
1322.1.2.3; for figs, see (e.g.) Un 443). The text of Ua 158 runs as follows:
Ua 158 .1
ke-do-jo , o-na , e-qa-na-q~[
*146 20 GRA 7 N14[
Moreover, that these similarities between Ua 158, with its mention of o-na, and the records which contain
o-no is not an accident is further suggested by the evidence of Fh 5431. Here, as we have noted earlier, a recent
series of joins has provided us with a reference to o-na in a series (the Fh OIL records in h. 141) where there are
frequent mentions of o-no, and where it is attractive to explain o-na, which is here followed by de-,!!!-,:,!-jo, as
having the sense 'prices', just as o-no preceded by tu-ru-pte-ri-ja on An 35 and Un 443 is attractively taken as
meaning 'price'.
Now, clearly, if o-na is the plural of o-no, o-no cannot be ovo~ or OVOl.
36 L.R. PALM ER, Language 41 (1965),319.
37 Note that Veenhof calculates that in ancient Assyria the payload of a donkey was 'at least some 90 kilos',
though it may have been at least some 10-15 kilos smaller 'when the load consisted almost exclusively of
textiles'. See K.R. VEENHOF, Aspects of Old Assyrian Trade and its Terminology (1972), 45.
38 LEJEUNE (supra n. 23), 84.
39 Though it is possible (a) that a-ri-to-[1i.q before OLE on Fh 347.2 is the genitive of a MN and (b) that we
should understand this as dependent on a-no understood: note the phrase we-we-rq-o-no in the previous
entry on this line.
40 With this phrase, compare (as many have done) o-no-we-wo-rq[ on KN Xe 657.2.
R. Palmer: I have a question concerning a-ko-so-ta and his oil. I found it very interesting that these people may
not only be collectors but they are working for what they are getting as well. a-ko-so-ta is obviously carrying out
quite a lot of transactions for the palace, maybe even for himself at the same time. So it is not just oil-drums,
sitting back, and lapping up the luxury of the land, but they are out there working for it. Would you not agree
with that?
J.T. Killen: I think it varies actually, according to the person. Our friend a-ko-so-ta plainly is a major palace
official, so in a sense he is working for his supper, as it were. But one suspects with others of these people that
they are members of the ruling elite, the Queen Mother or something like that, and that they are not necessarily
engaged in full-time administration. They are simply beneficiaries of the system. So I would tend to suspect at
any rate that there are differences between these people. We have no further clear evidence. a-ko-so-ta at Pylos
rather stands out as he is clearly involved in all these administrative things, yet none of the others seem to have
these functions. But I will say that there is possible evidence that ku-pi-ri-jo at Knossos is a rather similar figure
to a-ko-so-ta. There is a fragmentary tablet in the cloth series which talks of ]pi-ri-jo do-ke (!.e. "gave") and I
think that may well be ku-pi-ri-jo again, in which case he will be involved in this other sector of the economy as
T.G. Palaima: As usual, J.T Killen has brilliantly organised some very complex material and presented it in a
very provocative way. The trouble with all of his papers is that I normally agree with him totally; they are so
compelling. This strikes me the same way, even though I was one of the people who had before defended the
almost universal adjectival function of ku-pi-ri-jo. N. Hirschfeld at the last Mycenaean colloquium in her study
on Cypriote pot-marks argued strongly that, because of Cypriot pot-marks in the Argolid, there was a Cypriote
directed trade and a very strong apparatus for Cypriote trade. This requires within the Mycenaean sphere
someone who was organising that trade specifically. This would be in line with what J.T. Killen is seeing here as
far as having an actual individual of high status in the Mycenaean administration with this function. One
question I have on the new join from Knossos that has put ri-no with ke-re-si-jo, would you be taking ke-re-si-jo
now as a Cretan, as Mr. /Kresios/ or would you still see an adjectival function in that particular context? The
second thing is: I was very intrigued by your parallel discussion of the D-Series at Knossos where you showed
ra-wo-po-no parallel to po-ti-ni-ja-we-jo. If you look on Un 443 you not only have ku-pi-ri-jo with the lead
entry, with the alum entry, but in line three you have ka-pa-ti-ja who is the keybearer at Pylos, a highly-placed
woman official. And the other compelling thing about Un 443: you not only have o-no in the first line, but do-ke,
another kind of transactional vocabulary for ka-pa-ti-ja. So I think your idea about o-no makes splendid sense
again. So in many ways both with regard to ku-pi-ri-jo and with regard to o-no and with regard to the entire
package: it is an extraordinary job.
J.T. Killen: Thank you for the kind remarks. I think that ku-pi-ri-jo on the wool tablet which alternates with ke-
re-si-jo is in fact the adjective in that case. That is not the individual. This, I think, does literally mean special
wool for decoration which is being imported from Cyprus, which is being contrasted with Cretan stuff. It is just
conceivable that it is a description of a type rather than the actual provenance: of Cypriote type. But I think it is
more likely that it is actually an import. On the other point I agree.
H. Enegren: I just have a general reflexion concerning the collectors, mainly at Knossos. Do we have at
Knossos evidence maybe for royal trade agents, that is to say a tamkar system. Peter Warren has for example
shown that there is evidence for a merchant class in Minoan times. A tamkar system involving semi-independent
merchants could perhaps explain the interest shown by the palace at all stages of production, part of which was
perhaps ultimately intended for trade.
J.T. Killen: I deliberately did not use that term -tamkar - but this is obviously getting rather close to that
concept. Actually, in the written version of this I do mention that term. Yes, I do think we may be getting close
to something like that.
J. Weingarten: I was not aware of the production of alum on Cyprus. I would like the references please. I have
always associated alum with Melos (Melian earth) and Egypt above all.
J.T. Killen: The reference is in Pliny, Naturalis historia.
T.G. Palaima: L. Baumbach has a whole article most recently in Parola del passato.
P. earlier: First, for a very long time we have been looking for merchants in the Mycenaean world in the
palaces. Killen has found the last link in the chain of commerce: the middleman linked with the palace. I think
that his interpretation of this aspect of the role of the collectors is quite convincing. My second point concerns
the term a-no. I agree essentially with the etymology, that it must mean "profit" or "benefit". But to use the
translation "benefit" is perhaps a bit misleading, because o-no, if! understood you correctly, means in fact what
they receive in return for what they give. So it is not exactly what we mean in modern languages by "benefit".
The third point is that, although we now have another very valuable bit of information about the collectors, there
still remains an enigma, for we still do not know exactly what their own profits by the system were, as the o-no
is what they receive for what they give. Even if they were only functionaries - I agree with you that they were
not - but even if they were mere functionaries, perhaps in the archives the term o-no would be used. So o-no is
not exactly "benefit". Even if it is thought of as a "benefit", it does not function as that which we call a "benefit"
today. The exact function of the collectors is still one of the main problems of interpretation in Mycenaean
society and remains an enigma.
J.T. Killen: On this a-no problem: I do not see a tremendous difficulty in having a term in Mycenaean which
has slightly different implications in different contexts. Living in the kind of society in which we do we feel
perhaps that there ought to be a special term for "price". But in this society I cannot see why they could not use
the term "advantage" or "benefit" or "bonus" or whatever in one context for what one receives in return for a
commodity and also in another context for benefits of a different kind. It is essentially the same underlying
concept, I think, although it does in particular contexts take on different nuances. I do not see any tremendous
difficulty with that. As far as your last remark about the exact function of the collectors still being enigmatic is
concerned, I quite agree: there are still enormous problems.
H. van EtTenterre: In French we have a term: monnaie de change. I am sorry that it includes the word "money",
but it is exactly what you mean, I think, by o-no.
T.G. Palaima: The following question for J.T. Killen, which concerns the irony of having these important
persons, whose titles, as far as I can tell, we do not know. They are found in the genitive and in all these
different locations, and we call them collectors or owners, as you have said, because of the term a-ko-ra. But
they are still not specified as to their title. Would you care to speculate on this? Do you think that it is because
their status is somehow connected to the royal household or is an extension of it? I think that J. Bennet might
have some qualifying statements to make on that depending on what one sees as working in Messenia as
opposed to Knossos. Could you imagine a situation in which these individuals, if they were specified by title,
may in fact have different titles and different administrative functions within the bureaucracy but are somehow
in these particular economic contexts simply listed in the genitive?
J.T. Killen: I think there may be cases of these people appearing elsewhere in the documentation simply under
an official title, da-mo-ko-ro, or something of that kind. I think there may actually be one instance where one
can identify one of these collectors with the class of e-qe-ta, the "followers," who, whatever exactly they may
be, are obviously people of great importance. One can actually show, and Lejeune showed it a long time ago,
that a-pi-me-de, IAmphimedes/, one of the collectors at Pylos, is also named elsewhere as an e-qe-ta. I suspect
that there are other cases in which we simply cannot tie up the two things, since it is simply a lucky chance that
we can do it in the case of a-pi-me-de. Some of these people, I am sure, appear simply under their official titles.

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